[DC notes to self and others in brackets]
June 19, 1988 - A FINAL SURPRISE
"Hey Norman, thanks for everything." He was at his desk painstakingly writing a letter in textbook quality kanji and I was out on the deck.
"Sure you don't want to stay two more days," he asked. "A bunch of new monks from Suienji are coming to town tomorrow and Shuko and I are gonna go out on takuhatsu with them."
"Oh no, I'm all raring to go. I'm going to spend the night with the logger, the one I met when I first arrived at Kikuoka. I'll drop a dime in your cup. But don't look at me. It's forbidden."
"Okay. Thank you. You've been a lot of help. I'm sorry to have put you through so much."
"It was great, my pleasure. I hope everything works out. As soon as I know where I'll be living I'll let you know so you can come for R 'n R."
"Please do. Will Elin be there?"
"Looks like it. Our correspondence has taken a distinctly favorable turn. She's planning to come in the fall."
"Well, we'll see."
"She'll be there."
"Don't give me that bull. You're dying for her to come."
"I can take it or leave it," I said playfully.
"Sure. Better get outa here before your nose starts growing."
"Yeah, well thanks a lot again."
And then before we could hem and haw and say goodbye any more, Norman leaped up. "Oh! I gotta show you something."
"Come with me," he said and went out into the hatto. I curiously followed.
He went back to his room and got a flashlight and led me to behind the altar. The grin on his face was illuminated by the light in his hand as he pulled out a box.
"Just came in yesterday - a gift from Akagi-san," he said. "I watched Shuko unload it and carry it in."
"What on earth could it be?" I said densely, moving in closer as Norman opened the box, pulling back the cardboard flaps. Suddenly he was laughing diabolically as he thrust his hand into the case. He pulled out an A-frame shaped box, about eight inches long and six high. It was something we had been looking at for a long time and which we thought we would never see again. I knew the man on the side of the box, giving the thumbs up sign and winking. I knew him well. He had come to be like a member of the sangha.
"THANK YOU AND OK!" said Norman holding it high. "THANK YOU AND OK!"